Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


OK, it's only a number, and I definitely feel many years younger than my chronological age - but I am surrounded by aging pets and parents who need special help.

Caring for them means dealing with my own mortality, so I'm inspired to take even better care of myself to maintain my high energy level and improving physical shape.

I have to give my nearly 19 year old cat Cagney liquid antibiotics for her kidney infection twice a day and her arthritis medication once a day. Despite this, she remains active and snuggly.

My 11 year old Pomeranian Oscar needs medication twice a day as well - two types of pills - for a congenital heart condition and arthritis. He had a rough start in life. I didn't get him until he was 8 months old with serious behavior and medical problems, but two years of day to day socializing and care paid off - he's a terrific little soul to have around.

My aging parents have had their share of medical challenges recently, though I'm happy to report they are making a clever comeback now they've identified what medication they need and what they must do to improve.

There haven't been many good American films that deal with the issue of aging or mortality, and I'd suggest with the millions of baby boomers flooding the market -- now would be the time to make one that could be commercially successful.

I think part of the reason we're not eager to tackle the issue is because there is a question about what age and aging mean in 2006. In Western culture, there is generally a bias against people who age; Eastern cultures revere maturity because older people are thought to hold the key to wisdom.

Here, some individuals get older and look like they are aging. Others? We can't really tell.

Model Lauren Hutton says today's 60 is yesterday's 40. With everything from physical fitness to yoga to plastic surgery, looking older can actually be controlled by those who can afford it.

Age can be a huge issue for camera actors.

A couple years ago, we cast a really good Seattle actor for the role of a 27 year old in an indie SAG feature film. He did a great job, was perfect in the part.

Thanks to no mention of his age on his resume, we could only assume it. As it turns out, he was actually 43 years young. If we had any idea how old he really was? Chances are we would have - incorrectly - "believed" he was too old for the role - which would have been our loss!

American film roles (with a few exceptions) tend to disappear as women camera actors age, while many roles continue to be offered men as they grow older.

Hopefully that will soon be remedied with better scripts and wiser, older baby boomer decision-makers and film backers.

There's another issue: actors who become well known either as kids or sexy young adults most frequently find a job barrier when they move into the next age range. Which is why so many actors (especially character actors) who become well known as mature adults ("30-ish") - or who *look* older - can look forward to a long career because most people can maintain that look for decades.

Angela Lansbury played much older roles than her chronological age for years because she enjoyed a more mature look. In one film, she played the mother of an actor who was actually *older* than she was!

One thing about being a writer and director - we can do that work until we keel over after our last breath (I've always maintained I want my last words to be ... "Cut! That's a wrap!").

Acting coaches can work until we're literally on life support.

There's a video of the noted acting teacher Stella Adler conducting a class when she was quite aged. Through most of the class she simply sat, instructing actors with the help of an assistant as she pointed her cane, which she needed to help her walk, for emphasis here and there.

I believe it's all worth a good think - this aging business. I've often wondered if people are not as fearful of death as they are of aging.

One thing we do know for sure about life: we'll never get out of it alive.

So I guess what would matter most is how we use the life we have at any age.


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